Andhra Pradesh

Onion harvest: farmers in a hurry

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Quality being compromised as farmers go for early harvest

As the season comes to an end, onion prices continue to soar across the country. Onion farming in the district has been on the upswing in the past few years, and Kurnool district is considered to be one of the highest producers of onions. However, farmers started seeing profits only this year.

The profits have motivated the farmers to go into early harvest. Due to which, the quality of onions sent to the market is not as good as what it used to be.

"The onions, due to early harvesting are smaller. Moreover, some farmers are not even grading their produce," said K. Mallikarjuna, a farmer. He said as it is December, the onions do not grow big due to the cold weather. "As the farmers do not grade their produce, the buyers also are not showing interest. Which reduces the profits of the farmers," Mr. Mallikarjuna added.

Panic about pricing also seems to have driven the farmers into early harvest. They have been traumatised by the volatile market and are unsure about the scenario in the future. "Today onions fetch a good price. A few years ago, we got ₹300 per quintal in December. Tomorrow the prices may crash drastically," said T. Srikanth, another farmer.

Another farmer, D. Hanumanthu added that some of the onions were given away as cattle feed a few years ago as they were not fetching a good price.

Dwindling supply

Currently, onions in Kurnool Market Yard are fetching about ₹6,500 to ₹7,000 per quintal. And as the season ends, Kurnool Market Yard has been seeing fewer onions each day.

"In its peak, a few months ago, about 500 to 700 tonnes of onions was being moved from the yard. We currently are moving only about 100 tonnes a day," said the market yard secretary R. Jayalakshmi.

Exporters have expressed displeasure as the number of onions has come down. While there is a demand for it across the country, the exporters are not able to find enough produce to ship them to other places.

"As the government has started procuring onions for Rythu Bazaars and it being the end of the season, there are not enough onions to export," Ms. Jayalakshmi added.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:10:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/farmers-in-a-hurry/article30308492.ece

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